Non-Calcemic Vitamin D Analogs for Treating Prostate Cancer

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing novel compounds for the treatment of prostate cancer.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 200,000 men in the United States were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005. The occurrence of undiagnosed forms of prostate cancer suggests the actual population of men affected with the disease may be substantially underestimated since as many as 40 percent of men over 50 have a "clinically silent" form of the cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that nearly 29,000 men will die annually from this disease.

Like many other cancers, prostate cancer often can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed at an early stage; however, the standard treatment, surgery to remove the prostate and nearby lymph nodes or radiation to kill tumor cells, can result in impotence or incontinence. Effective treatments for prostate cancer are actively being sought, particularly for advanced, androgen-independent prostate cancer.

In recent years, analogs of the hormonally active form of vitamin D, known as calcitriol or 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3, have emerged as a promising focus for the development of prostate cancer therapies. Calcitriol has been shown to promote tumor cell differentiation and inhibit proliferation of malignant cells. While promising, the concentrations of calcitriol required for effective prostate cancer treatment can be toxic as effective therapeutic concentrations elevate blood calcium to dangerous levels.

A Novel Solution May Be Possible: Non-calcemic analogs of calcitriol

UW–Madison researchers are designing non-calcemic analogs of calcitriol with anti-cancer effects on prostate cancer cells. The anti-cancer effects are attributed to mechanisms that stop cancer cell growth, including apoptosis, differentiation and antiangiogenesis. These analogs may provide the solution to the dose limitations of calcitriol by providing the ability to administer higher concentrations of a vitamin D analog with much lower potential for causing hypercalcemia and its complications.

Business Opportunity

  • Prostate cancer is a growing market worldwide.
  • A need remains unmet for non-invasive treatments and fewer treatment-related side effects.
  • A major gap in the market exists, offering high commercial potential for second line treatment of hormone refractory prostate cancer (HRPC).


  • Treatment for all forms of prostate cancer.
  • Suitable as an oral or intravenous formulation.

Key Benefits

  • A proven biologically active compound that stops growth of prostate cancer cells.
  • Provides a safer, less calcemic compound than the natural hormone calcitriol.
  • Offers a fresh therapeutic approach for gaining access to the cancer therapy market.
  • Provides a drug development opportunity in a growing market space.
  • Innovative licensing and development terms available.

Stage of Development

The analogs offered in this portfolio have been subjected to in vitro/in vivo models for early-stage preclinical evaluation.

Please contact our office for updates as study data sets may be evolving with compounds under development.

Additional Information

For more information about the inventor, see Hector DeLuca.

Contact Information

Please contact our licensing team at or 608.960.9850 to explore and discuss innovative development pathways that are available to qualified development interests.